Raze to the ground

Previous Page

Raze to the ground : Phrases


To destroy and sweep completely away.



This, in a similar way to 'bated breath', causes confusion in its spelling. The source of these misunderstandings are the homophones that are present in each. In 'bated breath' that's 'bated' and 'baited'. In this phrase - 'razed' and 'raised'. Added to that, the fact that the correct spelling in each case is of an archaic word that is rarely used elsewhere.

As a child I heard stories of WWII and of cities like Dresden and Hiroshima being, as I thought, 'raised to the ground'. That seemed odd to me. How could destroying them with bombs raise them? Were these cities underground? It makes a little more sense when we understand that what's being said is akin to 'erased to the ground'. It seems that others have the same confusion - there are twice as many hits in Google for 'raise the the ground' as there are for 'raze to the ground'.

Razed is hardly a common word now, but it was in the 16th century. For example, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, used it in Aeneid II, 1547:

"I saw Troye fall ... Neptunus town clene razed from the soil."

Shakespeare also used it in Henry VI Part II, 1591:

"These are his substance, sinewes, armes, and strength, With which he ... Razeth your Cities, and subuerts your Townes."

Phrases Index

From Raze to HOME PAGE

Follow These Links!